My business: Leave the other stuff to us

Robert Lockie CFPTM Chartered FCSI, investment manager and branch principal at Bloomsbury Wealth, explains how the firm's comprehensive wealth management service allows for a disciplined rebalancing strategy
by Jane Playdon

When did you become an accredited firm? What has happened since? Robert Lockie CFPTM Chartered FCSI
Robert has worked in financial services since 1987 but discovered financial planning in 1993 and qualified as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional in 1997, which coincidentally is when Bloomsbury was founded. He has worked there since 2001 and now owns the firm jointly with Carolyn Gowen CFPTM Chartered FCSI. He is responsible for portfolio model construction and maintenance and ongoing enhancements to the firm's financial planning process. 

Having previously served on the IFP's Education Committee and as a trainer and assessor for the CFP certification, he has recently joined the Financial Planning Editorial Panel for The Review magazine, and is an occasional speaker at CISI events.
+44 20 7965 4480

We identified it as worthwhile when it was introduced by the Institute of Financial Planning (IFP) in 2011, so we were in the first wave. We’ve not made any massive changes since then but it’s been a continual process of evolving so that we can serve our clients better. We have recently joined an international grouping of planners with a view to sharing best practice and to make it easier to refer clients moving overseas to another firm which shares the same philosophy, which is proving worthwhile.

What has accredited firm status brought to your firm and why should others seek to become accredited?

It provides a degree of recognition that we have a coherent and consistent process that applies to all clients irrespective of the individual with whom they initially engage. In a world awash with confusing individual qualifications and post-nominals which people outside the world of finance don’t understand at all, it demonstrates that a third party has independently assessed the firm’s processes and that it does actually do financial planning across  the business. Without that, we could just be a group of highly qualified individuals with the only thing in common being that we happen to work in the same office. However, firms do need to market their accredited status effectively, because it’s unrealistic to expect the CISI to be able to do so with each firm having different market niches and characteristics. It is a way of differentiating from the mass of other businesses claiming to do planning, and it provides credibility when talking to other accredited firms.

What other accolades and awards has the firm picked up in recent times?

We have won a couple of the New Model Adviser regional awards for Greater London but our ability to enter most of the worthwhile awards has been somewhat constrained in recent years by the fact that most of those are judged by my wife which, not unreasonably, tends to bar us. However, in previous years several of the team won categories (and once the overall award) in the Money Management Financial Planner of the Year awards and others.

What sort of business is it and what services does it offer? What’s your USP?

At its heart it is a financial planning firm which expanded its proposition in the middle of the past decade to incorporate investment management to become more of a comprehensive wealth management business. We operate as a branch of Raymond James, which provides our regulatory permissions and investment back office functions, and thus we are one of the few planning firms with discretionary permissions. While we don’t use this to be able to react rapidly to market movements (our philosophy is that all the known and anticipated information is in the current price so trying to second guess the market is pointless), it does allow us to follow a disciplined rebalancing strategy without having to obtain a client’s authorisation each time. We tend to work best with people who want to get on with the things they enjoy and to leave the other ‘stuff’ to us. Even though some used to do their own financial planning, they recognised that it wasn’t what they enjoyed and that they were unable to be their own ‘critical friend’ and challenge their thinking.

How did you get into financial planning?

I was sort of doing it (in a modest way) by accident and then one day I read an article about the late Tony Shepherd, who was then IFP Chairman, setting out a bold vision for the Institute which caused half of the members to leave and which he then described as “the best thing that ever happened to it” because they were the ones who weren’t serious about planning. That sounded like the sort of commitment that was worth learning more about and I started attending meetings and getting as involved as I could for someone who knew absolutely nothing. I met and had the opportunity to learn from some of the pioneers of the profession in the UK and found that there was a great willingness to share with those who had ‘seen the light’ more recently.

What’s the best thing about being at a financial planning firm?

Making a real difference to people’s lives and helping them to see that they can achieve what they want and how they might be able to overcome difficulties. We’ve had several instances where clients were worried about having no earnings and we showed them that they could meet their goals even if they never did paid work again.

Name one new thing you like at the CISI

In the past year or so it has started to demonstrate a willingness to support the profession of financial planning and has recognised at a senior level that it provides a sound foundation for providing advice to the public. It seems obvious to us that starting with a client’s goals and a good understanding of their circumstances and then working with them to achieve those goals is something that people will value highly and pay for. But that message still has further to penetrate in some quarters and the CISI is well placed to help with that.

What was your involvement in Financial Planning Week this year?

We provided many free individual consultations with members of the public, most of whom would not have been on our radar normally as we could not serve them on an economic basis. They reported that it was helpful to them.

What does a typical day look like?

There isn’t really a typical day but I usually start with reviewing any written client work that needs to go out. The rest of the day could include approving portfolio trades, a conference call with the team, working on tools to make our workflows more efficient, fixing issues with some of our tools or even meeting a client, although that isn’t my primary role.

What are your key tips for other planners?

  • It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing it, there is always useful new stuff to learn, even if it’s not what you expected initially.
  • Don’t limit yourself to the UK – there are loads of excellent planners around the world and they are generally willing to share best practice (and they aren’t your competitors).
  • Focus on what clients are really telling you and don’t rush towards a solution until you have established that you are solving their most important problem.
This article was originally published in the Q4 2017 print edition of The Review. The print edition is available to all members who opt in to receive it, except student members. All eligible members who would like to receive future editions in the post should log in to MyCISI, click on My Account/Communications and set their preference to 'Yes'.
Published: 27 Nov 2017
  • Financial Planning
  • Accredited Financial Planning Firm
  • Q4 2017
  • My business
  • Bloomsbury Wealth

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